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ARPA Funding Guidance for Behavioral Health Programs

How can counties and state agencies best apply the recent windfall of federal aid?

On March 11th, 2021, the Biden Administration signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support communities in crisis. Totaling $1.9 trillion dollars, around $3 billion of these funds are earmarked to support behavioral health programming at the state and county levels.

“This is an unprecedented amount of funds being earmarked specifically for behavioral health expansion. States and counties will need to plan quickly how to best utilize the dollars in order to effect lasting change for their residents.” - Cassie Branderhorst, Sober Grid Vice President for Criminal Justice and Community Programs

The funding will come from two block grants totaling $1.5 billion each- The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG), and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG). You can find your states total allocation in the links above.

Additional funding from State Opioid Relief (SOR) programs, as well as Opioid Settlements, will continue to help stem the tide of the worsening opioid and substance use disorder epidemic.

Sober Grid works with counties and state agencies to assess budgets and provide our platform to increase engagement and improve outcomes for individuals with SUD with the support of data tracking and analytics.

Applying for ARPA Funding

Each state’s Single State Agency (SSA) will be responsible for meting out the funds to local area providers. These may come from grant opportunities posted by the SSA or through other means as determined by each state.

Metropolitan cities will receive funding directly from the Department of the Treasury and can request their funds from the department portal.

Maximizing ARPA Funding for Behavioral Health

Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SHBG)

What this means for for applicants:

Applicants should have an internal plan and strategy for disseminating funds to appropriate, integrated segments of the community that can further distribute funding to those impacted by SUD. An appropriate branch of the government should have a member or members dedicated to overseeing and monitoring distribution.

Grantees must develop a comprehensive primary prevention program that includes activities and services provided in a variety of settings. The program must target both the general population and sub-groups that are at high risk for substance abuse. The program must include, but is not limited to, the following strategies:

  • Information Dissemination

  • Education

  • Alternatives

  • Problem Identification and Referral

  • Community-based Process

  • Environmental

SAMHSA’s guidance also recommends that states utilize that funding in order to develop, enhance or improve the use of digital therapeutics, increased access and low barrier approaches for SUD treatment services, enhanced recovery support services, introduction of health information technology to improve access to and coordination of recovery support services, advance telehealth opportunities to expand services for hard-to-reach locations, expand technology options for callers, and the expansion of peer-based recovery support services. Specific and expanded information on these guidelines can be found on SAMHSA’s webpage for the SHBG.

What this means for applicants:

The internal plan must target and assist not just those currently affected by SUD but those populations most at risk of developing SUD and SUD related issues. All factors in the continuum of care for SUD sufferers must be considered and addressed.

This may include coordinated referrals to resources that affect the social determinants of health such as: housing, transportation, employment supports, job placement, education, and many more.

We currently have over a dozen contracts in place with County Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Authorities, Speciality Court Dockets, and State Departments of Correction, to provide a platform that fills identified gaps to ensure a complete continuum of care for patient participants that creates demonstrable outcomes including:

  • Reduced costs to the public and community systems

  • Decreased rates of hospitalization, recidivism, and readmission

  • Increased treatment engagement rates and completion of treatment plans

  • Improved likelihood of long term recovery from SUD

We are very encouraged to see the increased levels of funding available for treatment and recovery support services via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These programs are helping people sustain their recovery, engaging families and significant others, bridging the gap between treatment and long-term recovery, and supporting people reentering the community from incarceration.

For more information and a free consultation, please email Cassie Branderhorst at:

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